old songs and healing from grief




Have you ever heard old songs in a new light? I was given the opportunity to attend a small concert given by three gents! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

One of the songs performed was James Taylor’s “Your Smiling Face”. I used to like listening to James Taylor. Somewhere along the line, certain music became painful for me to hear. The emotions that arose were not welcomed. It had been years since I listened to James Taylor or any of my old time favorite artists. Here I was at this gathering listening to an old song – a favorite of mine – and I was smiling.

Music that was used during the abuse by Tom M. (my former husband and perpetrator) was, of course, triggering. I avoided listening to those songs for a long time. That was understandable.

Yet, songs that used to bring me solace or happiness also brought sadness. Many old songs of my high school and college days (or shortly after) reminded me of several long-term, close, and special friendships that were no longer in existence or barely alive. These songs – such as “You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole King and James Taylor), and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Diana Ross) – were now part of a grieving process. When you are grieving, even good memories may hurt.

Friendships, due to telling the truth of my past and of the abuse, were lost … gone … I experienced much grief. That grief was not felt for a long time because I had to deal with starting my life over again, having no place to live for a time, finding a job, processing the grief from unjustly losing custody of my daughter, dealing with the uncertainty of Megan’s safety (especially the years when she lived with her father – the perpetrator of abuse and torture against both Megan and I), plus surviving emotionally, financially, and physically.

Oh, I listened to certain songs with joy such as “Piano Man” (Billy Joel). See my post: https://roadtofreedomandpeace.com/music/

I appreciate songs and music. Instead of music that was familiar to me, I sought music that was fresh and new to me such as the drummer in my downtown area. (Read: https://roadtofreedomandpeace.com/joy-awareness-and-experiences-of-joy-as-a-survivor-of-abuse-andor-torture/).

Life improved. I started to address the grief I felt from friendships lost, the betrayal I felt at times, as well as acknowledging the understanding I had for friends who could not deal with the reality of the past abuse and torture in my life. It is not unusual for people to find it easier to say the abuse could not have occurred and that the victim is suffering from mental illness. Sometimes that is because the individual herself or himself may have been a victim of abuse in her or his past. Sometimes it is due to the fact that a person does not want to or cannot even acknowledge the evil deeds that are done to others, especially someone they loved.

Once I realized that listening to “Your Smiling Face” brought a smile to my face, I began to listen to old songs and to hear them in a new light. I challenged myself to listen to Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, and others. Lo and behold, the songs were just songs. Some I still like. Others no longer appealed to me much. Most did not touch me on a deep, intense level anymore. Most are songs I will not seek to hear. I’ll enjoy many of them when they randomly play somewhere.

I am grateful for the music that helped me through rough times. Most songs have no hold on me. Freedom. Freedom from the intense emotions that certain songs evoke is progress. Now I can smile as I remember singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” with two friends as well as other memories. Grief ebbs and flows. Slowly one heals.

There are a few songs that still evoke intense emotions such as pain, angst or a deep, profound sadness. One of those songs randomly played in a coffee shop recently. It is not a very old song; but, the song brought me back to a very difficult time within the past ten years. Tears started. Healing is occurring. It may take longer. This specific song reminded me of my daughter, Megan Ellen. Knowing time has helped, I have confidence that eventually I will be free enough to listen to even those songs without the intense sadness or other deep emotions.

When Megan and I left our apartment in Germany, I left almost all my household goods. I had a German cookie tin that contained CD’s. I miss that tin box of music. It contained classical music for different grade levels used for homeschooling, international folk music, Irish songs, Tom Petty, spiritual music, Christmas songs, and more.

Although I no longer have the cookie tin of music … I still have the memories of listening to those songs. Megan and I danced to certain songs such as “Cecilia” (Simon and Garfunkel) and “I Won’t Back Down” (Tom Petty). Good memories. Dear memories.

(To listen to “I Won’t Back Down”, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvlTJrNJ5lA.)

Healing takes different forms and shapes. Surprisingly, I was given the gift of a concert to help me recognize that more healing had occurred.

Where have you healed further?

When did you notice healthy growth had occurred?

Did someone point it out to you?

Was it a pleasant surprise or an awesome awareness?

Let yourself notice the mending that has happened in your life.

Be aware of the positive changes even if they appear small.

Each positive growth aspect adds to the entire process of healing.

Shed light on the positive!

Behold old songs in a new light!